A Comprehensive Guide To At Home Workouts

If you’re looking for at home workouts that can actually get you ripped then this article is for you.

The major issue with bodyweight exercises is the lack of what is known as progressive overload.

Progressive overload is simply the continual increase in resistance from set to set and week to week.

You can do this at the gym by just adding more weight to the bar.

If I’m doing 3 sets of 10 reps on bench press then my first set could be 200 lbs, my second set 220 lbs and my third set 240 lbs.

This is progressive overload and it is the key to building muscle.

Also, if this week I started bench press with 200 lbs, then next week I could start at 210.

This is what typically sets the gym apart from working out at home and also, why guys who workout in the gym can typically build more muscle.

It becomes much harder to progressively add resistance when you are doing bodyweight exercises like pushups and squats.

Pretty much all at home workouts simply amount to bodyweight movements that are nothing more than cardio because there is no progressively increasing resistance.

Knocking out 20 or more pushups with ease is just endurance.

The same thing goes with bodyweight squatting 100 times.

The net result is that your body does not change from a muscle standpoint.

The point is not to say that cardio is bad.

Hell, if all you want to do is lose weight or just burn some fat than doing a shit load of pushups, situps, bodyweight squats and other typical at home exercises can do it.

But the point of this article is to actually help you get ripped.

And to do that it will be far more advantageous to put muscle in the primary position of your at home workouts.

at home workouts bodyweight exercises

The major mistake that most people make when they workout at home is that they have a real shitty resistance training component to their workouts.

I’ll put it bluntly… no resistance training, no muscle.

Yes, there is a cardio component to a good workout but cardio should not dominate.  It should take a back seat.

So this comprehensive guide to at home workouts places the resistance training component first.

It is basically the same similar movements you’d be doing at the gym, only we are going to make use of bodyweight exercises that have a progressive overload component.

For example:

  • Bench press = pushups
  • Barbell squats = bodyweight squats
  • Pullups = pullups
  • Tricep extension = bodyweight dips
  • etc.

Keep in mind that I’m also assuming you have no free weights.

Bluntly, everything we talk about here will be geared toward amplifying bodyweight movements to build muscle and burn fat.

And in case you are wondering if this works?…

Fuck yes… it works extremely well if you actually do it consistently.

Progressive Overload: The Key To At Home Workouts

As we touched on above, progressive overload is simply continually increasing the resistance of your exercise from one set to the next – and also week to week.

It is a major key to building an amazing body.

This is how you take at home workouts that simply increase your endurance and turn them into ones that actually build muscle.

Most people who workout at home don’t do this.

They do the same bodyweight routine from week to week without finding a way to continually increase the resistance.

You need to find a way to make your bodyweight exercises challenging.

That means if you can knock out a set of 40 pushups with ease – you need to find a way to make it so that you struggle to get 10.

The reason is simple – research shows that higher resistance at lower rep ranges builds significantly more strength than higher reps at low resistance.

This is called the strength-endurance continuum.

The reason building strength is important is simple – research shows that as strength increases so does muscle.

Typically, all that doing more than 10-12 reps does is turn the typical bodyweight exercises like pushups and bodyweight squats into cardio exercises that don’t build any additional strength.

Remember, if strength is not increasing then neither is muscle.

Typical bodyweight exercises have both a cardio and strength component – your mission is to limit the cardio component and increase the strength component.

So the question becomes how in the hell do you add progressive overload into your at home workouts when you don’t have access to standard gym weights?

You basically have two options:

  • Buy some simple equipment.
  • Improvise.

If you get creative and improvise it can mean simply using a training partner to sit on your back when you do your pushups or hang from it when you are doing squats.

The only issue becomes when you get stronger you need to continually find bigger people in order to increase the resistance.

Pullups are harder to do for most people so they don’t usually require any additional resistance at first, but if you can do more than 10 reps then simply find a way to add some weight.

The other option you have when it comes to progressive overload is to buy some simple equipment.

I suggest a weighted vest.

We used to wear these all the time back when I was playing ball and they are extremely effective at adding resistance to bodyweight exercises.

For example, this one goes up to 140 pounds (you can get them over 200 pounds) and it is adjustable – meaning you can add and remove weights as needed.

A weighted vest will work for every single bodyweight exercise you can imagine.

You can also use resistance bands.

You can purchase them in varying degrees of resistance and bands do work well, however, in my experience using a vest is just easier.

The hardest lift to replicate from a sheer resistance perspective is the squat.

If you’ve done any amount of free weight training in the past then you know that it requires quite a bit of weight on the bar before you can only do 10 or fewer reps when squatting.

This is why one thing I like to do with at home workouts is to incorporate one leg squats and high step-ups.  They are a lot harder to do than traditional squats.

Simply use a box or other platform to stand on and then do one leg squats (I will show more in the section below).

One of the major benefits of this is that you can get a large range of motion and it becomes incredibly difficult to knock out a set of six to 10 reps when you are squatting on one leg to your feet.

Especially if you are wearing a weighted vest.

Progressive overload is the key to turning a typical bodyweight exercise from nothing but cardio into one that will actually build some serious muscle.

It is how you make your at home workouts way more effective.

Do These 7 Bodyweight Exercises For Your At Home Workouts

So, let’s break it down.

There are seven bodyweight exercises we will be doing that are awesome for working all of your muscle groups.

  • Pushups (chest, shoulders, triceps)
  • Pullups (back, biceps)
  • Dips (triceps, chest)
  • Squats (legs, glutes, lower back)
  • One leg squats (legs, glutes, lower back)
  • Step ups (legs, glutes, lower back)
  • Crunches (abs)

I like to have several exercises for legs because these exercises are vital for building total body mass.

Remember, you want to incorporate progressive overload with all of these exercises as we discussed above.

Pushups

weighted push ups for resistance

Again, progressive overload applies to pushups.

Knocking out 50 pushups is not going to do you any good in the muscle building category.

You need to find a way to progressively add resistance.

This means using a weighted vest or having someone sit on your back.

Your results are going to be determined by your ability to consistently make this movement tougher over the upcoming weeks.

That is why guys who go to the gym can continually add muscle – all they need to do is keep adding weight to the bar and their strength goes up.  As we’ve discussed, research shows that as strength increases so does muscle.

Pullups/Chin-ups

Ripped guy doing pullups

Pullups are one of the single best compound movements of all time.

They literally work your entire upper body.

It is the one exercise that you do in your at home workouts that is also in the routines of seasoned vets who go to the gym.

The reasons is simple, it works like crazy for developing that v-taper back.

It’s also an awesome bicep movement.  It just will get you looking thick.

To do these you can either get creative and find something to hang from or you can purchase a door frame pull-up apparatus.  They are pretty slick and because this exercise is so vital for at home workouts it is well worth the money.

door frame pullup bar

If there were one at home bodyweight exercise I could not live without it is by far and away the pullup.

Make damn sure you are not neglecting them.

A variation is the chin-up like he is doing on the door frame bar above (palms facing toward you).  It is also absolutely awesome for back and bicep development.  Chin-ups actually activate the bicep better than curls.

What I like to do is alternate between the two.

  • Set 1: Pullup
  • Set 2: Chin-up
  • Set 3: Pullup

Or do one on Monday and the other on Thursday.

A variation of it, if you can’t do at least 10 of them, is what is called the Australian pullup.

Al Kavadlo has a great article on them here.

They can be a great addition to at home workouts when pullups are too difficult to do.  As your strength increases you can simply switch over to pullups or even alternate between the two.

Dips

Dips are a great way to target triceps.

They also help to further develop the pecs.

It’s just one exercise that tends to get left out of at home workouts that can make a major difference in building some awesome triceps.  When it comes to getting bigger better arms, the triceps are every bit as important (if not more) than the biceps.

Using a weighted vest or some other form of resistance here will go a long ways with this exercise.

Squats

This is no different than pushups.

Knocking out a set of 100 is going to do nothing for building muscle.

You need to be able to add enough resistance so that you force the reps below 10.  Your ability to consistently do that on a weekly basis will determine how much leg growth you can accomplish.

This means adding a weighted vest or having someone hang on your back.

Out of all the exercises, barbell squats are the hardest to replicate.

The benefits of barbell squats are absolutely awesome.  If you are working out at home one of your primary goals should be to find a way to progressively overload your squats so you can keep challenging yourself.

One Leg Squats

A great variation exercise that is a lot harder to do than squats.

If you can’t find a way to add enough resistance to your squats you should be able to find a way to make doing one leg squats much tougher.  It doesn’t take a lot of weight.

I like to do both squats and one leg squat and step ups in my at home workouts because it really helps to ensure that the quad muscles are getting fatigued.

Step-Ups

Instead of dumbbells, you will be using your weighted vest.  Here’s a demonstration video.

Or – as you may find, you have a hard time getting 10 reps without any resistance.  Just work your way up to adding resistance.

A simple exercise box works best for doing these.  The higher the better because it makes them harder to do.

You can also use a box like this for one leg squats and dips.

Crunches

Yes, crunches work if they are done correctly.

In fact, research shows that they outperform most other new-school movements when it comes to abdominal activation.

Not only do they develop ab muscles, they also improve blood circulation to the abdominal which helps burn stubborn stomach fat.

If you can find a way to add some resistance to these it will be better.

So those are the seven exercises.

My typical four-day gym split if I am using weights looks as follows:

  • Monday: Chest, Back, Triceps
  • Tuesday: Legs, Shoulders, Biceps, Cardio
  • Wednesday: OFF
  • Thursday: Chest, Back, Triceps
  • Friday: Legs, Shoulders, Biceps, Cardio
  • Saturday: OFF
  • Sunday: OFF

These at home workouts will work off of the same split.

You are getting enough off-days to recover so that when you do exercise you can do it super intense.  The intensity is the key with these workouts.

That’s why you get three off days.

So you can workout intense without running the risk of overtraining.

The most important thing is that you are progressing and avoiding overtraining yourself.

The Cardio Component

Every good workout routine has an intense cardio component.

Because we will be operating in the under 10 rep range and our exercises will be geared toward muscle development we need to add in a cardio component.

I’m not talking standard boring shit like steady state jogging.

I’m talking doing high-intensity interval training as I discussed in this article called HIIT vs. Steady State Cardio.  Research shows that it is actually just as safe, if not safer – as I share.

Doing these HIIT sessions is doubly important if you do not go to the gym because there is just no way you can replicate the sheer intensity of using super heavy free weights.

We are not doing cardio simply to burn fat – we are doing it to trigger growth hormone which will burn fat and build muscle.

Research shows that high-intensity cardio can trigger a lot of growth hormone.  And studies show that growth hormone torches body fat and builds muscle.

It’s a major key to getting ripped.

Doing these HIIT sessions will make up for much of what is lost by not using heavy free weights – which also trigger growth hormone.

That doesn’t mean that our resistance bodyweight exercise won’t, it’s just that there is no way we can fully replicate the benefits of using heavy weight training in terms of releasing growth hormone and other growth factors like testosterone.

That is why our at home workouts must include intense cardio.

Sprinting works great for this.

Things like weighted jump rope and burpees are also awesome cardio for at home workouts.  Wearing a weighted vest will make these exercises even more effective.

You need to pick an exercise you can do for 30 seconds at 80%-90% VO2 max for five cycles.

Let’s say you are going to do weighted jump rope (you can buy a weighted jump rope or just use a weighted vest).

Here’s how that looks:

  • Weighted Jump Rope (all out intensity)  (30 seconds)
  • Rest two minutes
  • Weighted Jump Rope (all out intensity) (30 seconds)
  • Rest two minutes
  • Weighted Jump Rope (all out intensity) (30 seconds)
  • Rest two minutes
  • Weighted Jump Rope (all out intensity) (30 seconds)
  • Rest two minutes
  • Weighted Jump Rope (all out intensity) (30 seconds)

You should be doing these so intensely (80-90% VO2 max) that you are literally gasping for air.  The total time duration of this cardio session is around 15 minutes.

You can also do the same thing with sprinting.  Or burpees.  Or you can mix them together.

The point of HIIT is not the exercise it is getting your heart rate up to that 160 range for a drawn out period of time.  That means your ass should be gasping for air.

We will be doing these sessions at least two times per week.

If you need to progress to that point because you are not in good enough shape to do them, just start with one the first couple of weeks.

6-Week Progressive At Home Workout Routine

6-week at home bodyweight workout routine

So if we take the standard bodyweight exercises and combine them with the principle of progressive overload we can put together a routine.

I like to keep everything on a 6-week rotation because it keeps it more interesting when we are doing different rep ranges each week and continually increasing resistance.

You can certainly experiment with it but I like to do something along the lines as follows for my at home workouts.

WEEK 1 (3 sets x 10 reps on everything):

MONDAY (Chest, Back, Triceps, Biceps)

  • Weighted Pushups
  • Pullups (Weighted if you can)
  • Weighted Dips

TUESDAY (Legs, Cardio)

  • Weighted Squats
  • One Leg Squats (Weighted if you can)
  • HIIT Cardio (5 cycles 30 seconds weighted jump rope)

WEDNESDAY (OFF)

THURSDAY (Chest, Back, Triceps, Biceps)

  • Weighted Pushups
  • Chin-ups
  • Weighted Dips

FRIDAY (Legs, Cardio)

  • Step-ups
  • One leg squats
  • HIIT Cardio (5 cycles 30 seconds burpees (or sprint))

SATURDAY / SUNDAY (OFF)

WEEK 2 (3 sets of 8 reps everything)

Do the same routine above only progressing the resistance heavier than the week before so that the 5th-8th rep on the 3rd set of each exercise is extremely challenging.

WEEK 3 (4 sets of 6 reps everything)

Do the same routine above only progressing the resistance heavier than the week before so that the 4th-6th rep on the 4th set of each exercise is extremely challenging.

WEEK 4 (5 sets of 4 reps everything)

Do the same routine above only progressing the resistance heavier than the week before so that the 2nd-4th rep on the 4th and 5th set of each exercise is extremely challenging.

WEEK 5 (5 sets of 10,8,6,4,2 reps, Drop set progression)

Do the same routine above only begin the first set of each rep with 10 reps and complete the 5th set with only two reps.  That means you will progress from a pretty light weight resistance to a super heavy resistance.  It’s sort of like a bodyweight max-out on your last set.

Example:

  • Pushups (10, 8, 6, 4, 2). The resistance is getting heavier for each of the five sets.

I love to end my six-week rotation on drop sets like this.  It is like a recap of each week before and I’ve found it to be extremely beneficial for triggering some awesome gains.

WEEK 6 ( Repeat Week 1)

Everything is 3 sets by 10 reps only now you will be using heavier resistance than you did in week one.  You will have gotten much stronger by week six than you were in week one if you have been practicing progressive overload and the muscle gains will be noticeable.

WEEK 7 – WEEK 12

Just duplicate week 2 through week 6 only with more resistance.

Final Notes

One thing I like to do is use a foam roller (not stretching) before my workout to warm-up and after my workout to help recover.

Also, make damn sure your pre and post-workout nutrition is good and that you are eating an awesome diet that is conducive to building muscle and burning fat.

You can just keep progressing your at home workouts using the routine above from week to week.

Just do it over and over and every week you are doing lower sets with harder resistance until you reach the sixth-week drop sets.  After that, you start the routine over again.

As you can see, everything is done in 6-week increments and everything incorporates progressive overload.

As we stated above – research shows that as your strength increases so does your muscle.

A home-based workout like this is extremely effective for building muscle and getting you ripped, especially when you incorporate the intense HIIT sessions like we discussed.

If you try this get back to me in the comment section below and fill me in on how your results are coming along after the sixth week.

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